Helsal 3 with Paul as a Helm and former Wild Spirit Oli trimming took first in PHS Class 1, Divisional Line Honours and first Tasmanian Yacht to finish in tough race that saw 31 of the fleet retire including last years winner Wild Oats.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2015 Report
It is Boxing Day, it must be Sydney. Of course it is, my 6th Sydney to Hobart race and 4th on Helsal 3. This year is a bit different though as the boat is almost ready to race. The training took place roughly to plan and under the influence of new co-owner Dr Paul Mara the admin happens smoothly.
I have sailed with more than half the team before but I am not skipper this year, just helm, which relieves me of a considerable burden. I have run into a few old friends and had a couple of good meals at our favourite Thai restaurant but really we are quite focused this year and ready for the start.
The helicopters buzz overhead, it is a fine day so up to a quarter of a million live spectators vie for positions whilst we do the final preps, team photos etc. The start is always a high tension time and with its restricted space plus hundreds of spectator boats plus ferries the Sydney to Hobart is worse than most. Doc P has insisted on a strict starting position regime and I am in charge of the mainsail, effectively the accelerator and brakes.
We get a good start, not brilliant, but Rob on the helm avoids other yachts which is more than some do, with one yacht not even making it out of the Harbour. It is over 600 miles to go so being 10 seconds late crossing the start line doesn’t matter so much.
In 20 knots of wind we are sailing fast and with over 100 entrants it really is a bit crowded, another collision near to us but I can’t watch as I have just too much too work do to help us keep clear of the rest.
Now the S2H is big news in Oz and the yacht which has won for the last few years is heavily sponsored by a TV station, so when severe weather was predicted for the first night of the race it moved from the sports slots to the main news slots. Particularly poignant for us as Steve who is doing his first S2H was a Helicopter winch man who rescued 4 sailors off Winston Churchill during the infamous 1998 race, 3 more died. He remains slightly apprehensive but somewhat re-assured by our 3 Man over Board practices, the last of which included recovering Tess from the water. (She volunteered, with sharks around we wouldn’t have thrown her in).
We do well getting out of the Harbour and are in front of several faster boats and alongside a colleague of mine skippering Woteva with a mainly UK team. Our team is mainly Australian with just 2 from our UK ‘Wild Spirit’ team.
With 25 knots of wind from the North east we run quickly under spinnaker towards the forecast gale or ‘Southerly Buster’. A couple of minor sea-sicknesses but the team is working well and watches commence at 1800 with mine starting at 2100.
We charge on under spinnaker, one rips so another is quickly hoisted, the hull starts to purr around 15 kts; surfing down some big following waves we top 20 kts, then it goes dark in front of us. I am helming and watching the huge dark roll . . . → Read More: Sydney to Hobart Win